Unlv basketball
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FSM Preview- 2021 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels – Coaching Staff



Franchise Sports Media is proud to introduce our newest UNLV Runnin’ Rebels reporter, Che Jones. Che is a former college basketball coach at Northern Arizona University, Phoenix University, and the former head basketball coach of the Las Vegas Venom of the American Basketball Association (ABA). Che graduated from Las Vegas High School and is one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to UNLV Basketball. We are happy top have him as part of the Franchise team.


First, The Head Coach:


UNLV Basketball
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Kevin Kruger

In the ever-changing landscape of college basketball, new UNLV Runnin’ Rebels head coach Kevin Kruger has passed his first test at the helm…winning the portal game! With a team that’s made up primarily of transfers (nine to be exact), they look poised to not only look different on the sidelines but markedly different in the box scores. However, whether the grass is indeed greener on the other side is yet to be seen…and green grass is a rare commodity under the harsh Las Vegas sun.

The burning question surrounding the program is how much of an impact will veteran head coach, and father to the aforementioned Kruger, Lon (Kruger) have on his son and this program? Will he simply be a shoulder for Kevin to lean on during the tough times or will he have even more of a presence in the Thomas & Mack Center? Will Lon spend his spare time breaking down film and assisting Kevin and his staff or will he opt to bask in the glow of retirement and spend his spare time assisting Kevin’s wife instead as a doting grandfather?

Nonetheless, the presence of the elder Kruger will undoubtedly give Kevin assurance and a proven asset, whether in the Rebels film room or the Kruger nursery, both of which will alleviate any undue pressure throughout his inaugural season running the program.


Second, The Assistants:


UNLV Basketball
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Carlin Hartman, Tim Buckley, Brandon Chappell & DeShawn Henry

Kruger will have a familiar face to look to in veteran assistant coach Carlin Hartman. He played a major role in the recruitment of the University Oklahoma Sooners‘ finest era and recruited several future all-Big 12 selections as well as future NBA draftees. Hartman is widely recognized as one of the better assistants in the nation. He was even selected to attend the Annual Collegiate Coaching Consortium which provides rising basketball coaches and NCAA Athletic Directors the opportunity to participate in a multi-day academy. It is widely known that Hartman played a pivotal role in the success of the Sooners during the Kruger era and is poised to do the same with the younger Kruger.

The fact that Hartman is a proven recruiter will not simply lure more talented players to the Thomas & Mack, his commitment to bettering the lives of young people in the inner cities will make him an asset to the Las Vegas community at large, once the season concludes. Hartman was instrumental in establishing the Black Assistant Coaches Alliance and is a member of the Coaches Coalition for Progress. Hartman’s level of commitment to the civil unrest of last summer lends credibility to the types of early decisions that Kruger has made to ensure that the young men under his care are well taken care of both athletically and psychologically.

Former Lamer University assistant coach and sharpshooting standout Brandon Chappell most recently spent two seasons alongside Kruger in the Big Sky at Northern Arizona University. The return of assistants Tim Buckley and DeShawn Henry will lend some sense of familiarity to Rebels fans and the 2 holdovers from last year’s program.


UNLV Basketball
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

Buckley offers Kruger a long list of coaching stops that not only include the treacherous grind of the Big Ten Conference, but also a lengthy stint as a head coach at Ball State University. Buckley has also worked alongside Tom Crean at the University of Indiana. Like Hartman, Buckley has a proven track record as a quality recruiter and his various stops across the nation from the Midwest to Maryland Parkway would suggest that he has established strong ties along the recruiting trail.

Henry will remain in his role as the Director of Basketball Operations, a position that is becoming increasingly familiar to college basketball fans. Henry was a highly respectable coach locally at Desert Pines and Durango high schools, producing quality collegiate players at both stops. He once worked diligently over the summers developing players through the LeBron James Basketball Academy and more importantly serving as the director of Nike Basketball Camps for more than 15 years.

Perhaps the area in which the staff could potentially be lacking is at the juco level. If decades past has proven anything to the Rebels faithful, it’s that juco players have been very kind to the Scarlet & Grey. Scouring the juco ranks has proven beneficial to every Rebels head coach, from as far back as Jerry Tarkanian (Larry Johnson) to Bill Bayno (Tyrone Nesby and Keon Clark) and even Charlie Spoonhour (Marcus Banks). Kruger has created a nice balance between veteran coaches and young coaches as well as coaches with ties all over the country that are semi-familiar to the Rebel faithful and hopefully AAU/high school coaches.


Last but not least:


UNLV Basketball
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

You, the fans!

Without question, the modern Runnin’ Rebel fan is far less critical of the play of the home team than their parents and grandparents. Perhaps the expansion of the city of Las Vegas and her desire to grow up and spread her wings has led our interests to be evenly dispersed amongst music festivals, “stay-cations” and a myriad of new professional teams. The Las Vegas Golden Knights, Las Vegas Aces, or the latest Rebels neighbor to move in next door, the Las Vegas Raiders, have now made Las Vegas a top destination for sports entertainment for locals as well as the world.

The dedicated red-blooded Rebel fan has a long memory, desperately wants a return to prominence, and will not rest until this team does so. It would be an understatement to say that the revolving door which has become the head coaching position at UNLV has gotten old. However, the fact remains that stability is an immediate priority and ironically, the best way to slow the bleeding. Stability in the lead chair and a dose of patience as this young coach finds his way and gets the opportunity to establish his own identity away from the legend lurking in the shadows would be best.

…. I’m sure Tark himself would agree it’s not fair to compare him and Kevin as well…


Che will preview UNLV’s front court in his next article. Have the Runnin’ Rebels found their presence down low or will they once again come up short?


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-Che Jones – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Che on Twitter @CoachCheJones

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